Deborah Rankin

True Popularity Is When You’re Old and People Still Want to Be With You

Today I want to share something I learned from my father as he aged. I’m thinking about him because it’s the fourth anniversary of his death.

Dad taught me that life can be a long race. The end is shaped by what came before.

Because he was kind, considerate, and cheerful, people still wanted to be with him when he was old. He lived alone, and no doubt felt lonely at times after mom died, but to me, he seemed quite popular for an 87-year-old who was a shy, bookish farm boy when he was young.

People wanted to be with him! My siblings and I competed for the honor of having him with us on holidays. His brother-in-law invited him along on errands and outings. Two or three senior citizen ladies telephoned often for long, chatty conversations. Grandchildren invited him to graduations, award ceremonies, and sporting events.

What makes one “popular” at various stages of life? When we’re young, it might be looks, smarts, or athletic ability.

In middle life, status and popularity might come from career accomplishments, money, or the ability to tell a good story.

Dad showed me what makes one popular in old age: an interest in other people, being a good listener, approaching life with optimism and flexibility. Good character and a loving spirit attract people, no matter how old you are.

He’s my role model. I have much to learn and make mistakes, but then so did he. I saw him learn from disappointing experiences and intentionally take a different approach the next time.
Thanks, Dad! You did well. You are missed.

 

Call to Action

How likely are you to stay interested in other people as you age? Practice the skills needed by taking my Be Young Challenge™️:

Go one full week without talking about your health problems, aches, pains, weight, or appearance worries. Instead, ask other people what’s going on with them, and listen. Can you do it? Ready….go!

 

©️2017 Booktalk Lady LLC

18 thoughts on “True Popularity Is When You’re Old and People Still Want to Be With You

  1. Hi Deb,
    A lovely tribute to your dad. I didn’t realize you and I share the same date…..my dad passed January 2, 1985. A friend posted a beautiful poem on FB which I shared earlier. Dads are wonderful people, teach us many things and I am so thankful that he taught me to be an independent and hard working person. He was the social guy and many loved him. The neighbor kids always called him Uncle Joe. Sounds like your dad did the same for you. God Bless, many prayers as you start the new year! Anne

    • Thank you Anne. Nice to know you are remembering your dad today also. Uncle Joe…a good memory…I can see the fruits of what he taught you. Blessings to you for 2018 also.

  2. A beautiful tribute to your father, Deb. My father was taken by Alzheimer’s long before other problems took him home to Christ. He was a very simple man, a bit under-educated but highly intelligent and creative, IF he had time to think about something before trying to do it. He could work miracles fixing wooden furniture, reproducing a wooden object he’d seen at a craft fair, and creating things Mom and I needed him to make from wood. He always thought it couldn’t be done and then a few hours later or the next day he’d have a plan for making it—just as we had already envisioned what we needed to do.

    Fortunately, Alzheimer’s made him gentler and childlike rather than angry and mean (that, sadly, was what my mom endured). The last time I was with him was on a spring break and I went to see him alone on Saturday evening at the nursing home before I left the next morning (Easter). For some reason, he clearly knew who I was and introduced me to the dining room staff, joking that I was from Houston and had been driving HIS car all over town. They had burgers and chips of choice on Saturday nights and I teasingly snitched a couple of his Cheetos which turned into a game (I had to go get two new bags of Cheetos) and we played the snitching game until they were gone. I didn’t get home before he died about a month later, but I love Cheetos–they are the only junk food for which I have cravings, especially if I am extremely stressed or in severe chronic pain for long stretches of time.
    So I learned from his wood-working skills and definitely inherited his creativity–which just didn’t seem obvious until I was a young adult. I also have his crooked smile, his hand shape, his long legs, and his patience with children. He could soothe a screaming infant by just walking around the house, talking to the baby as he closed blinds and curtains as it was getting dark. Oh, what a treasure it was to see him do that with Jennifer at about 2 months. I, too, am known among family and friends as the one who can put babies to sleep when all others have given up–my theory is that I bore them into sleep! 🙂

    I miss him so much, even as he was with Alzheimer’s which clearly changed who he was but kept his ability to adapt to new situations–just took him a while to process what was new. I hope I will also have that ability to adapt to new situations as needed as I grow much older–I plan to make it to 100 if there’s anything I can do to make it happen!

    Sorry this got so long, but your “remembering” triggered mine as well!
    Have a blessed and joy-filled 2018!

    • Thank you for sharing your story Peggy. A hard way for your father to go, but I am glad you remember his gifts and strengths.

    • Jennifer, thank you. I am glad you found it inspiring. I loved your blog about Pepper and her friend the handsome German Shepherd!

    • It’s always a good time to care about others Marylee! Not a bad pledge on Valentine’s Day!Thank you for appreciating his shining face.

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